As the winter draws in and with Halloween out of the way, for some of us there’s nothing better than wrapping up warm in front of the fire with a cup of hot chocolate. For those who dare to brave the cold weather, here are some great things to do in London this November, from checking out the Christmas lights to some amazing art exhibitions:
Get into the Christmas Spirit…
Whether you’re visiting the Christmas markets and fairs or practising your ice skating skills, a trip to London in November wouldn’t be complete without checking out the spectacular Christmas lights scattered across the city.
For the first time in six years, the lights on Oxford Street are getting a complete overhaul to coincide with the sixtieth official Christmas lights switch-on which takes place on Thursday November 21st. A series of 27 LED ‘light curtains’ will be draped down the length of the street – prepare to be dazzled!
With a new theme each year, Carnaby’s Christmas Lights are a sight to behold. This year, Carnaby has collaborated with Project 0 – an ocean conservation charity – to create a sustainable display which features dazzling underwater scenes and a 5-metre long whale that blows bubbles!
As well as being a shopping, food and cultural area in London’s West End, at this time of year the Piazza at Covent Garden sparkles with over 100,000 lights, a huge handpicked Christmas tree and a large reindeer sculpture. Well worth a visit!
Garlands of lights and glorious golden angels make a comeback this year on this grand shopping sweep, with plenty of activities and festive events to get involved with. The big switch-on is Thursday November 14th, hosted by Heart Breakfast presenters, Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden, along with an array of special guests.
This year Seven Dials have partnered with homeless charity Shelter as part of their interactive ‘Starry Night’ themed lighting installation. Visit the special charity ‘tap’ point at Earlham Street and tap your bank card to make a £3 donation to Shelter, with each donation making the stars twinkle.
Amazing Winter Wonderlands
Light up those dark winter evenings with a trip to Glow – a magical winter lights festival with a theme of illusion, where lanterns and installations provide illuminating warmth. The festival is based in the grounds of National Trust property Eastbury Manor House in Barking. At just £5 per ticket for over 16’s, this is a display you shouldn’t miss!
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Open from the 21st November 2019 right through to the 5th January 2020, the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park is free to enter and has everything from fairground rides and ice skating to live music, through to entertaining shows, Christmas markets and even ice sculpting workshops. There’s really something for everyone!
The Winter Forest, Broadgate Circle
The Winter Forest returns to Broadgate Circle this year with sparkling lights and snow-covered pine trees, as well as a calendar packed with events and workshops. There are both free and paid-for events including live music, gin tastings, wellbeing workshops and charity pub quizzes to name a few of the many activities available.
Go Ice Skating
Tower of London
With its ice rink set in the moat and snowflakes projected on to the castle walls, the Tower of London is transformed into a winter wonderland from 16th November. With spectacular views and a cafe in the adjoining marquee, this ice rink is the perfect place to wind down after work, enjoy a family day out or even for a romantic date.
Skylight @ Tobacco Dock Ice Rink
With real ice, igloos, bars and live entertainment, a trip to Europe’s only real-ice rooftop rink in East London is a definite must. Taking up three storeys, Greek street food is available on the lower level, while you can show off your competitive streak with an ice hockey penalty shoot-out on the next level. On the rooftop, enjoy the ice rink or get cosy with a drink in one of the rooftop igloos!
Natural History Museum
Open from October half term right through to 22nd January, this South Kensington ice rink in the museum courtyard is surrounded by fairylit trees. Once you’re worn out from skating, why not visit the cafe bar for a hot chocolate or mulled wine and sit on the balcony which overlooks the ice rink.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the ice rink at Somerset House, centred around a 40ft Christmas tree! Keep an eye out for 24-hour skating on special days, tying in with the 24/7 exhibition which looks at the non-stop nature of modern lives, and how we can protect ourselves from it, through over 50 artworks. The Christmas Arcade is back this year too, giving you the opportunity to stock up with Fortnum & Mason goodies for Christmas.
A bit of Christmas Wizardry…
Visit Hogwarts in the Snow
Discover how the Special Effects team made snow that doesn’t melt and flames without fire! This festive season, Hogwarts in the Snow returns to the Warner Bros Studio Tour in London. Visit iconic sets from the Harry Potter films, all decked out with golden baubles and lined with Christmas trees; and the long dining tables dressed as they were for seasonal feasts at Hogwarts. https://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/hogwarts-in-the-snow
Go and see Gandalf!
Sir Ian McKellen takes to the stage to celebrate his 80th birthday, with an 80-date tour of the UK and Ireland, including shows at the Harold Pinter Theatre in Leicester Square between November 12th and January 5th. The acting legend discusses his life, rattles through his greatest hits and even brings out Gandalf the Frey’s actual sword, Glamdring! Buy your tickets here: https://ticketing.timeout.com/entertainment/ian-mckellen-on-stage
…and a little romance.
A Romantic Winter Photoshoot
Winter time in London is enchanting and romantic, strolling through the streets wrapped up nice and warm, enjoying the Christmas sights and sounds. Splento offers a chance to capture your romantic day in London in pictures with a three-hour photoshoot, which begins at the London Aquarium, leading you on an enchanting tour past landmarks including Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and more before finishing at Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. You’ll receive 60 gorgeous images of your winter photoshoot within 24 hours!
Cuddle up at Icebar London
Get out of the cold into the ice as you snuggle up close to keep warm, sipping on ice cocktails in minus five degrees at London’s Ice Bar! Each year, the theme at the Ice Bar changes and this year’s theme draws inspiration from the myths of the Norse Gods, with cocktails including ‘God of Thunder’ and the ‘Loki Lipsmacker’. The unique bar experience lasts 40 minutes but you can heat up again afterwards in the FireBar or even add a dining experience courtesy of Yuu Kitchen @ Ice Bar. Tickets start at £14.
Take a break from Christmas
If you find the endless festivities a little overwhelming, why not try out something a little more cultural and less Christmas-sy.
Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh
Celebrating the 100th year of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, this exhibition has already taken record-braking stops in Los Angeles and Paris. In London from Saturday 2 November 2019 – Sunday 3 May 2020 and taking up residence in the Saatchi Gallery, this is your last chance to see more than 100-piece authentic tomb pieces before they’re returned to Egypt forever.
Bridget Riley: A Retrospective
Visit the most comprehensive exhibition of Riley’s work to date, including the iconic black and white paintings of the 60’s, as well as expansive colourful canvases, early figurative works and recent wall paintings. Developed in partnership with the National Galleries of Scotland and spanning 70 years of her work, the exhibition offers an insight into the artists’ working methods.
Enjoy some Jazz
With gigs at venues throughout London, the EFG London Jazz Festival brings together a diverse range of new talent and world-renowned musicians. Over ten days, you can attend performances including headline concerts, as well as intimate recitals. For the full festival line up, visit https://efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk/.
Catch a theatre show in London’s West End
A trip to London this November wouldn’t be complete without a trip to see a show at one of the West End theatres. With performances including comedies, musicals, dance productions and opera, you’re sure to find something you and your loved ones will enjoy. And with many other major attractions nearby, as well as shops and restaurants in the area too…you could make a whole day of it in this area alone!
This is only a small selection of hundreds, even thousands, of things to do in London this November, whether it’s with friends, family or loved ones. What would you add to the list?